TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Florida on to an effort to have two of the most important abortion cases in U.S. history overturned by the nation’s highest court.
In a Thursday brief, DeSantis, along with ten other Republican governors, argued the Supreme Court should reconsider past decisions on the 1973 case Roe v. Wade and the 1992 case Planned Parenthood of Southeast Pennsylvania v. Casey. Roe established the constitutional right to an abortion nationally, and Casey reaffirmed that right while making it easier for states to legally pass some abortion regulations.
If the Supreme Court, which currently has a 6-3 conservative majority, were to overturn those cases, abortion law could be left up to individual states — which could then choose to ban the procedure or regulate it in a way not legal under current Supreme Court precedent.
The governors argued that the two landmark cases restrict states from governing an area they should have control over.
“The Court’s decisions in Roe and Casey are prime examples of invading an area that has not been committed to the Federal Government and remains reserved to the States,” the brief reads.
Beyond the constitutional arguments, the brief argues there would be significant real-world benefits to overturning Roe and Casey.
Abortion issues would once again be left up to the democratic process, effectively “giving (the) issue back to the people,” the brief argues. If voters like abortion bans and regulations, they will keep electing leaders who pass them. If they don’t, they won’t.
The brief also contends that overturning the cases would “lower the proverbial temperature in these debates” and allow America’s various viewpoints to better shape abortion policy.
State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, who used to work as a senior director for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, took issue with that last point in a tweet.
“@GovRonDeSantis is an anti-abortion extremist who doesn’t think I have the capacity or deserve the right to make decisions about my body or pregnancy,” Eskamani, a supporter of abortion rights, wrote. “It wouldn’t ‘lower the temperature’ Governor — it would strip away my bodily autonomy.”
Christina Pushaw, a spokesperson for DeSantis, wrote in an email that “Governor DeSantis believes in the sanctity of life and protection of the unborn,” and noted that he supports the arguments expressed in Thursday’s brief.
Florida is not directly litigating the battle over abortion case precedent. Instead, the brief DeSantis signed onto was filed in support of an effort by the state of Mississippi to defend a law that state passed in 2018 banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It is through this legal effort that Mississippi is trying to get the Supreme Court to overturn Roe and Casey.
The Court is scheduled to hear arguments in Mississippi’s case this fall.